Ukraine’s reaction when Russia placed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

Ukrainian officials have criticized Russia’s decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus amid the escalating conflict.

“Putin’s statement about the placement of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a step that causes internal instability, maximizes thinking and negative reactions towards Russia and Putin in Belarusian society,” he said. . Kremlin holds Belarus nuclear hostage,” Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, commented on Twitter on March 26.

On the same day, Mykhaylo Podolyak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, accused Russia of “violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty”. According to Podolyak, Russia’s decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus shows that Russia is “fear of losing” and all Moscow can do is use “intimidation” tactics.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said that it had proposed an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council about Russia’s announcement regarding plans to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

The warning by Ukrainian officials came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Putin said that Russia has delivered several nuclear-capable Iskander tactical missile systems to Belarus, which borders three NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. He said that Russia will begin training on its use from April 3 and is expected to complete the construction of a special tactical nuclear weapons depot on the territory of Belarus by July 1.

According to the Russian leader, the President of Belarus has long raised the issue of the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, so “this is not unusual”. Putin also affirmed that this move of Moscow is similar to the US deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe.

NATO has criticized Russia for its “dangerous and irresponsible” statements on the issue of nuclear weapons.

“NATO is alert and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any change in Russia’s nuclear position that causes us to self-regulate. Russia’s mention of the issue of nuclear sharing NATO allies act with full respect for their international commitments, meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly broken its arms control commitments, most recently suspending its involvement join the New START Treaty,” a NATO spokesman said.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons calls President Putin’s announcement a dangerous escalation. According to the organization, “in the context of the war in Ukraine, the possibility of miscalculation or misinterpretation is very high, so sharing nuclear weapons makes the situation much worse and risks causing dire humanitarian consequences”.

The US Department of Defense said it would continue to monitor the situation, and confirmed Washington did not see any indication that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons. 

The risk of escalation into nuclear war “remains very low,” said analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Belarus shares a 1,085km-long border with Ukraine and is less than 100km from the Ukrainian capital at the nearest point. Belarus is also a close ally of Russia, allowing Russia to deploy tens of thousands of troops for military exercises before Moscow launched its military campaign in Ukraine. 

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